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Classical Problem Solving

Yes, I am an engineer. Engineers are trained in logical thinking, careful observation, and problem solving. They are also trained in inductive and deductive reasoning and in using a holistic approach. Engineering discipline employs time-proven techniques and logic in approaching any problem, and in developing a solid solution. Part of the approach employs both inductive and deductive reasoning in the process of developing a solution, which is robust and meets the requirements. Purely technical solutions can be flawed if the “non-technical” factors are not included. This is the nature of a holistic approach. This approach includes any factor or influence with might degrade the effectiveness of the solution. Some examples of non-technical factors include training, availability of proper test equipment, documentation, working conditions, and the working environment; part of which means that a “happy worker” is a more productive worker.

When confronted with a new problem or requirement, one of the first steps should be to “Define the Requirement”, followed by the next steps; “Define the Requirement” and Define the Requirement. A corollary to this basic principle is that the “best engineered solution is wasted solving the wrong problem”. Included in the process should be a detailed Project Plan, which includes the specific designation of responsibilities, a comprehensive and detailed “Statement of Work”, and a complete “List of Deliverables”. Also included should be the measurables, which specify how the outcome is to be measured; and a timeline of who does what, and when it must be done.

While I have addressed “Classical Problem Solving”, this approach and these techniques are fundamental and equally apply in the world of politics. In this world there are requirements; and solutions must be developed to provide the solutions. I think the horrendous results of NOT using these principles and approach are dreadfully apparent by the reporting in the news-media concerning many of our government projects and activities of government agencies. If a politician is in Washington, the first thing he must know is that there is a problem. Then he must understand the problem. Then he must do something about the problem. If he/she doesn’t have the skill-set needed to work on the problem, then he/she must seek out and obtain the assistance of those who do have the skill-set and the motivation to act.

“That's been one of my mantras - focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” Steve Jobs, 1955-2011, American Entrepreneur, Apple Inc.